8 Strangers Facing 2051

The year 2051, on a wall I cannot recall the name of the jazz great who recently celebrated his 80th birthday. Another fleeting NPR moment gone by except for one thing:  40 is half of 80. Here's why I was doing math listening to NPR.

On October 1st, I and 9 strangers came together under the auspices of my Forty by Forty Initiative. I called it an Idea Party. The goal was for women to share our experiences about entering the 4th decade and to make a virtual time capsule for baby girls being born this year to open in 2051. What would it have been like if someone had done that back in 1931 for us this year?

An Idea Party, Graffiti

These 8 women all arrived either through neighborhood list postings or acquaintances. They were armed with a willingness to celebrate and learn about each other, but also with a wide open mind. In each of them, it was clear there was a woman coming into herself, knowing what she wanted and didn't and living through events, positive or negative, that reinforced their power of self. 

As for capsule for 2051 that we built here are some of the contents:
  • Examples of current feminism and what we struggled with in 2011.
  • Anxiety about resources – clean water, organic seeds, fresh air, and a clean lake to swim in. 
  • Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff.
  • A real account of Beyonce's Girls song, to show that far from any truth, we do not "run the world."
  • A clarinet to play for one of the women's daughters (something not yet shared).
  • A lump of coal with the explanation – this is where we got our electricity.
We talked about the ways (digital and not) to build our community and express ourselves and build our connection to one another. A few had very amazing examples from their lives of collective power through women's groups and New Year's Resolutions. It seemed a shame to never see each other again.

Because we were meeting in person, it seemed that something tangible was in order. One of the women agreed to start a letter that we would send around to each other, over and over, with our thoughts, reflections, art or whatever we were motivated to share.

As I recall this year's Forty by Forty journey, there were far more than 8 women who have been touched and interested. So before the end of 2011, I will issue the call for the last phase of Forty by Forty to all the women waiting in the wings who had the kindness to respond to me and lend their support (from near and far). There are about 25 of you out there, each with amazing stories of your own about this year.

As far as those jazz greats go, I caved. And I found what I heard, too. Happy Birthday to all 3 jazz masters! 80 is a feat I am not sure I can achieve.

2051 Photo used under Creative Commons license. Photo by Eva the Weaver.
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